Houses - All Night (Music CD)

Release Date: 03 October 2011
Artist: Houses
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Arriving amidst a bumper crop of dreamy, drowsy, evocatively textural electronic and semi-electronic artists in the early 2010s, and appearing on a label, Lefse, which introduced several of that aesthetic's most ballyhooed purveyors (Neon Indian, How to Dress Well), it's easy enough to slot Chicago duo Houses -- primarily the outlet of Dexter Tortoriello, along with his girlfriend Megan Messina -- into the amorphous, somewhat makeshift category of chillwave. And it's not at all an inappropriate designation: All Night veritably glows with the requisite hazy, burnished, synth-kissed vibe, and is well-schooled in the curious central conceit that electronic beats designed for dancing can function equally well for lounging and relaxation. Certain moments here, especially "Rose Book," immediately recall the dense, torpid chug of chillwave frontrunner Washed Out. But the album is also rife with stylistic referents to a wider array of related sounds which, while hardly negating its zeitgeist, do serve as a reminder that folks have been making music in this vein for much longer than the latest blog cycle. To some extent, All Night works as a summary of at least a decade's worth of mellowed-out electro-organic sounds. Representatively languorous first single "Endless Spring" and the sprightlier, sweetly tuneful, bliss-disco standout "Soak It Up" both suggest the ersatz tropical vibes of the recent neo-Balearic wave (with audible antecedents stretching back to Sainte Etienne and well beyond); beatless instrumentals "Medicine" and "Sun Fills" offer richly blanketed smears of sound reminiscent of Eluvium (with some of Julianna Barwick's wordless vocal layering technique); "Lost in Blue" strikingly recalls the glitch-infused ambient pop of Dntel's 2001 landmark Life Is Full of Possibilities, an album which now sounds amazingly prescient. Also like Dntel, but even more than any of the aforementioned acts, Houses inhabit the perennially blurry boundaries between melodically oriented electronic music and texturally oriented pop music -- reductively, between noisy pop and poppy noise -- foregrounding songcraft and vocals (though not necessarily intelligible lyrics) more than most of their chillwave/lo-fi/electro peers, and even calling to mind the rock-based swoon of acts like Mazzy Star and Slowdive. And so forth. There are doubtless more strains of reference to be detected for those so inclined, but, naturally, the album is best enjoyed (and is resoundingly enjoyable) on its own atmospheric merits. Despite or perhaps because of the familiarity of the sounds it contains; with or without knowledge of its back story (it was recorded during Tortoriello and Messina's stint with living off the grid in a remote Hawaiian village); All Night, like the best of its influences, feels intimate, personal, and welcomingly warm. ~ K. Ross Hoffman
Release Date: 03 October 2011
Artist: Houses

1. All Night
2. Endless Spring
3. Reds
4. Rose Book
5. Soak It Up
6. Medicine
7. Lost In Blue
8. Wash
9. Sleeping
10. Sun Fills

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Catalogue No: LEFSE015